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D&D 3E/3.5 Spell Focus 3.5: WAH! Was it that bad?

TrubbulTheTroll

First Post
WAH! Spell Focus drops to a +1 bonus in 3.5. So did Greater Spell Focus! Granting a total of +2 to DC for a particular school when both schools are taken. This is quite a drop from +4 in 3.0.

Was Spell Focus really that unbalanced in 3.0? Does anyone miss the +2 to DC?

Talk to me!
 

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der_kluge

Adventurer
Heck yea! It's the first thing I've house ruled in my 3.5 house rules. I left them the same as they were. Lame. LAME-O to drop them.

Who from WoTC is responsible for this? 20 lashes with a wet noodle, I say!
 

aurance

First Post
The story is, the revisionists felt that Spell Focus was ok at +2 but Greater Spell Focus was over the top at +4. They can't just negatively rule something in the PHB (I.E. "Greater Spell Focus no longer exists"), so they kept both and reduced their power.

I house-ruled GSF out, and kept SF at +2.

-A
 

Negative Zero

First Post
whoever did this really dropped the ball. GSF was never a core rule, so there was no reason to change SF in the first place. i've seen to many comments by the designers along the lines of "well. people weren't playing the way we wanted them to, so now we're gonna change the rules so they will."

ok, a little poetic license there on my part, but that's essentially what happened with this. same thing happened with power attack. so rather than leave well enough alone, they added another feat to the PHB and ruined them both. why? IMO, so they could accurately advertise that the new book contains x number of new feats. shameful if you ask me. ... you did ask me ... right?

~NegZ
 

psionotic

Registered User
How about combining Spell Focus and Greater Spell Focus into 1 feat? The first time you take it, you get +2, but every subsequent time you take it for the same school you only get an additional +1..


So if someone really wanted to have sick saves on their evocation spells, they could spend feat after feat upon it.

Most though, would probably only take it once. 3 feats for +4 to DCs to one school hardly seems worth it to me. 4 feats for +5 is slightly worse, etc.

(since someone brought it up, though, I like the new Power Attack feat. Finally 2 handed weapon wielders can be the equal of sword + shielders and 2 weapon fighters)
 
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PaulGreystoke

First Post
Why all the Fuss?

I'm surprised people are still complaining about the Spell Focus nerf. I know it seemed startling a few weeks ago when we first heard about it, but it scarcely seems to be an issue now that the books are out. Those who have roved through the 3.5 spell lists have discovered that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of no save spells. The 3.5 paradigm is that if a spell requires a touch attack roll, then it allows no save. There are now spells (new & old alike) of almost every level that fit this new paradigm, so spellcasters don't need to buff up their spell DCs in order to affect creatures with good saves. They just need to succeed at a touch attack roll, which remains absurdly easy. :p

The same is true of those complaining that SR wasn't nerfed. The fact the most Conjuration spells can't be resisted by SR renders the point moot. A good spellcaster will just make sure that they have some Conjurations available when they are likely to face opponents with SR. Only Specialists who have taken Conjuration as one of their opposed schools won't be able to benefit from this change. Of course, since Teleportation is now part of the Conjuration school, I doubt we will see many of these theoretical Conjuration-bereft Specialists in actual play. ;)
 

Negative Zero

First Post
Re: Why all the Fuss?

PaulGreystoke said:
I'm surprised people are still complaining about the Spell Focus nerf. ...
don't confuse the vocal minority with everyone. just coz we've seen a few posts about it (and i mean few in the relative sense; i.e. relative to the actual number of people who visit these boards) doesn't mean that everyone or even most people knew. in fact some people go out of their way to avoid all spoilers before a product release. weird, i know ;)

~NegZ
 

psionotic said:
How about combining Spell Focus and Greater Spell Focus into 1 feat? The first time you take it, you get +2, but every subsequent time you take it for the same school you only get an additional +1..


So if someone really wanted to have sick saves on their evocation spells, they could spend feat after feat upon it.

How about ... not? That would be open to abuse of the archmage style.

Most though, would probably only take it once. 3 feats for +4 to DCs to one school hardly seems worth it to me. 4 feats for +5 is slightly worse, etc.

Most is not all. Lots of people would keep taking Spell Focus multiple times. The thing is ... high-cost/high-power rarely works in DnD. Players and DMs simply adapt to the costs and enjoy the benefits.

Ryan Dancey, former WotC designer, comments:
When designing anything that affects a save DC, the target that should be considered when determining rule balance is the target most likely to be affected by the spell. That means that in the case of a spell with a Fort save, the conspicuous target is a character with a "bad" Fort Save.

"Bad" saves lag 2 to 3 points behind "good" saves, or roughly six levels. So a +1 to a save DC is the same as six levels of saving throw bonuses against the conspicuous target. +2 to a save DC (GSF) is worth 9 levels of saving throw bonuses.

What that really means in practice (because most encounters match the PCs against opponents of roughly the same power level) is that casters with SF and GSF have a 5% to 10% advantage when casting spells at conspicuous targets.

That's a huge, practical advantage in game for the use of SF and GSF. With the old versions of the abilities, not taking SF and GSF was almost always a mistake (and there's nothing worse than a feat that you absolutely, positively should always take - that's what class features are for.) Even with the revised values, pure spellcasters will probably still take them, because the advantages they offer are so significant.
 
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Wormwood

Adventurer
In my experience, SF and GSF both *read* as balanced, but were unbalanced in play.

Chalk this up as a good change for me.
 

Thresher

First Post
Funny how the 'default setting' gets kicked down to accomodate a Forgotten Realms PrC that dosnt really fit into the 'default setting' but I guess thats why we got Red Wizzies as well.

Maybe its time for Wotc to think about what the default setting actually is, yes thats nice, you whored it up in some realms game at home with your archmage Mr Designer but for the rest of us that arent doing it I dont really see the need to inflict it as a flaw in the system for everyone else who wasnt raping the rules.
 

DonAdam

Explorer
I'll just be using what I intended to before I knew the 3.5 change:

Both give +1 caster level and DC.

I never liked that spell focus only really benefited a few schools.
 

Balgus

First Post
I asked the very same question yesterday.

Here it is.

From what I gather, it is more the fear of a min/maxer taking advantage of the feats and also PrCs. But hey, that's what a DM is for. These boards give a decent heads up. A DM could just ban thse PrCs or house rule it out.

My big beef was I had geared my cleric to a Heirophant (after going Divine Disciple). And there were other class abilities that I wanted to take. But it would have been nice to have this option to increase my spell's effectiveness- especially with SR.

Continuing the rant
 

Thresher said:
Funny how the 'default setting' gets kicked down to accomodate a Forgotten Realms PrC that dosnt really fit into the 'default setting' but I guess thats why we got Red Wizzies as well.

Maybe its time for Wotc to think about what the default setting actually is, yes thats nice, you whored it up in some realms game at home with your archmage Mr Designer but for the rest of us that arent doing it I dont really see the need to inflict it as a flaw in the system for everyone else who wasnt raping the rules.

Greater Spell Focus was a problem on it's own, even without taking broken prestige classes into account.

BTW PRCs aren't supposed to be more powerful than core classes, whether they are FR-specific or not.
 

Balgus

First Post
(psi):
PRCs aren't supposed to be more powerful than core classes, whether they are FR-specific or not.
No- and they aren't supposed to be weaker either. They are supposed to be balanced- but specialized for flavor.

Edit they are supposed to be better at what they do, but also able to do less...
 
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Balgus

First Post
Ryan Dancey: (+2 is like having a 9 lvl advantage)
I understand this, but who ever has the perfect spell prepared at any given moment. A clr10 only has 6/3/2/1 spells per day. The lower ones are almost useless at that level. And so he really only 3 spells +D a day to cast effectively. How is he able to gauge which enemy he will encounter that day, and if it is not an NPC, what is the beasts' good saves.

Taking both feats gives you +2, or 10% advantage. For a player with only 4 feats (lvl 10 human cleric) spending two of them for a measly 10% is not worth it. That is an 11 instead of 10 on a d20. Is it really worth it?

And then you come to a char with good saves. Does that make your caster a gimp now? Before, you can rely on your fireballs and Lbolts to do some damage from far away. Now, it's a 55% hit? I'm sorry, but for 2 feats...

but of course I have not played with the char yet. maybe I will get a different impression after a couple games, but if every commoner makes the save and takes nothing... I will be quite put out...
 

Elder-Basilisk

First Post
Since this thread is where the debate appears to be happening, I'll post here despite this being a response to the Ryan Dancey quote on the other thread.

The idea that "any feat which is a must have" should be a class feature instead of a feat is decent but does not reflect anything in the design of 3.0--and even less in the design of 3.5.

For fighters, for instance, weapon focus, specialization, and the greater versions of those are feats rather than class abilities. Similarly, for wizards spell penetration and greater spell penetration are feats not class abilities. And for conjurers, Augment Summoning is a feat not a class ability. These are all must have feats for nearly any fighter, wizard, or sorceror.

Now, the role that WF, WS, GWF, GWF, SP, GSP, and AS play in the game is as "must have" abilities for particular designs of a class. Fighters, wizards, and sorcerors are not like bards, rogues, rangers, paladins, or barbarians who have the vast majority of their needed class features spelled out for them. They have more flexibility. That's why every fighting class doesn't have weapon focus as a class ability for instance, even though it's very nearly a must have feat for many designs--some characters will want it but others won't. Similarly, some wizards want Augment Summoning but not Spell Penetration and others would want a different feat. By being feats instead of class abilities they preserve the flexibility of the classes.

Spell focus fits that category exactly. It's just as must have for a focussed wizard as weapon focus is for a focussed fighter. However, it's not a class feature since some fighters and some wizards are designed so as to make it unnecessary and making it a class feature would make such designs more difficult to pull off. Thus the Dancey was missapplying the "no must have feats" principle. There are plenty of "must have" feats and Spell Focus exactly fits the description of what other "must have" feats have in common.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Also somthing to consier: Hieghten Spell.

It's pretty much only benefit in upping the spell level was upping the DC. It's still a potent tool to prep with, because the spell's higher level also hits SR pretty nicely.
 

Urbannen

First Post
Practical experience has shown that no matter how high the save DC, they will still make their first save, and that includes critters with "bad" saves. Or maybe my DMs have always fudged in their favor.

Nerfing SF and GSF means that spellcasters that would like to focus on using offensive spells from the Enchantment, Illusion, or (new) Transmutation schools will need to think twice about doing so. Every spell slot or learned spell represents a valuable non-renewable resource to the caster. Why prepare Suggestion when a Lightning Bolt is sure to deal damage? In some ways the nerf makes sense, because a spellcaster has to carry more than one version of a "save-or-die" spell in order to be effective, one for when it fails the first time and another to try again. (When it fails for the second time, hope you're a sorcerer. Well, heck, at that point, just go to Magic Missile.) This means that a spellcaster has to use more of his resources to take out a foe. This was the idea, I guess. The question remains: Are you going to devote resources to spells that may or may not be very effective, or to spells that will always have some effect, namely Evocations and Conjurations? A fighter doesn't lose access to his weapon after using it a certain number of times - a spellcaster does.

With the advent of creatures with spell resistance at higher levels, it is just pointless to prepare or learn some of these spells. DM: "You got through spell resistance." Player of Enchanter: "Great" DM: "But it made it save" Player: "But it made its save the last time I got through spell resistance, three rounds ago! I don't have anymore offensive spells left - I wish I had just prepared all Cones of Cold"

The school of Illusion was especially hard hit by this change. If even one member of a group sees through an illusion, that means everyone in the group will likely see through it. Low level image are just incredibly easy to save against - and they don't even deal damage.
 

Elder-Basilisk

First Post
I don't know what copy of the rulebooks you have, but mine don't say anything about Heighten Spell helping against SR. SR is a straight up caster level check. The level of the spell (which is what Heighten Spell changes) has nothing to do with that. All Heighten spell does is increase the spell level (useful for getting past globes of invulnerability or spell turning) and consequently increase the DC.

Kamikaze Midget said:
Also somthing to consier: Hieghten Spell.

It's pretty much only benefit in upping the spell level was upping the DC. It's still a potent tool to prep with, because the spell's higher level also hits SR pretty nicely.
 

Urbannen said:
Practical experience has shown that no matter how high the save DC, they will still make their first save, and that includes critters with "bad" saves. Or maybe my DMs have always fudged in their favor.

That's statistically impossible. The creature has an equal chance of making every save unless he has access to the Protection domain or Moment of Prescience.

Nerfing SF and GSF means that spellcasters that would like to focus on using offensive spells from the Enchantment, Illusion, or (new) Transmutation schools will need to think twice about doing so. Every spell slot or learned spell represents a valuable non-renewable resource to the caster. Why prepare Suggestion when a Lightning Bolt is sure to deal damage?

It takes only one successful suggestion to remove an opponent from the fight ... provided you use the proper suggestion.

Suggestion isn't the best example, since the PHB is not clear on it's effects, just like the illusion effects. You would be better off discussing a more useful spell. ;)

In some ways the nerf makes sense, because a spellcaster has to carry more than one version of a "save-or-die" spell in order to be effective, one for when it fails the first time and another to try again.

Almost ... this assumes your DM isn't cheating, however.

[/b](When it fails for the second time, hope you're a sorcerer. Well, heck, at that point, just go to Magic Missile.)[/b]

Sounds like your DM is cheating.

This means that a spellcaster has to use more of his resources to take out a foe. This was the idea, I guess.

Yes. You're supposed to use the same amount of resources most of the time whether you use save-or-consequences or direct damage.

The question remains: Are you going to devote resources to spells that may or may not be very effective, or to spells that will always have some effect, namely Evocations and Conjurations?

It's a gamble. If the battle ends on round one, that means less risk to yourself. Of course, you can't count on the spell working, either. Even Evocations have limits, however - there are lots of creatures that are resistant or immune to an element. In 3.5 these elemental resistances have, for the most part, been reduced. However, a 2nd-level spell can nearly trump meteor swarm.

A fighter doesn't lose access to his weapon after using it a certain number of times - a spellcaster does.

He loses hit points instead - these come back more slowly than wizard spell slots (more likely, they take away the cleric's spell slots instead).

With the advent of creatures with spell resistance at higher levels, it is just pointless to prepare or learn some of these spells. DM: "You got through spell resistance." Player of Enchanter: "Great" DM: "But it made it save" Player: "But it made its save the last time I got through spell resistance, three rounds ago! I don't have anymore offensive spells left - I wish I had just prepared all Cones of Cold"

You can try that, but those high-CR/high-SR monsters often have more hit points now - even some of the celestials - so you're still going to be sitting there tossing spells at them for several rounds. While you're tossing those AoE evocations, the other party members (fighters and rogues, maybe clerics) can't engage the creature in melee. AoE becomes a lot better when your opponent is capable of flying.

The school of Illusion was especially hard hit by this change. If even one member of a group sees through an illusion, that means everyone in the group will likely see through it. Low level image are just incredibly easy to save against - and they don't even deal damage.

If you ask me the image spells were weak to begin with. I have found displacement and mirror image, along with the invisiblity spells to be far more useful than major-"hey Mr. DM what does this spell do again?"-image.

Kamikaze Midget
Also somthing to consier: Hieghten Spell.

It's pretty much only benefit in upping the spell level was upping the DC. It's still a potent tool to prep with, because the spell's higher level also hits SR pretty nicely.

The spell level has no effect on SR.

Balgus
I understand this, but who ever has the perfect spell prepared at any given moment. A clr10 only has 6/3/2/1 spells per day.

True ... but a 10th-level cleric doesn't have that many save-or-consequences spells in any event. S-o-C spells don't become "the king" until 13th-level or so.

The lower ones are almost useless at that level. And so he really only 3 spells +D a day to cast effectively. How is he able to gauge which enemy he will encounter that day, and if it is not an NPC, what is the beasts' good saves.

How does he know the NPC saves? Sometimes it's hard to tell their character class. In any event, it's often (but not always) easy to tell a creature's saves. If it's an unintelligent beast, like a dire tiger, use a Will-save-or-consequences spell. If it's a giant, do the same thing. If it's a spellweaver, try slay living.

Note that cleric save-or-consequences spells are usually only Fortitude-save-or-die spells. Mass command has a language and complexity restriction that reduces the range of creatures it will work on. (I wonder - can you command a trained dog to "sit"? :D )

This is why wizards have better spellcasting ability than clerics - I have found Otiluke's resilient sphere, hold monster and flesh to stone to be very useful, for instance.

Taking both feats gives you +2, or 10% advantage. For a player with only 4 feats (lvl 10 human cleric) spending two of them for a measly 10% is not worth it. That is an 11 instead of 10 on a d20. Is it really worth it?

I think they were focusing on wizards for this feat ... however, the cleric should only take Spell Focus (Necromancy), whereas a wizard might take two or three Spell Focus feats.

And then you come to a char with good saves. Does that make your caster a gimp now? Before, you can rely on your fireballs and Lbolts to do some damage from far away. Now, it's a 55% hit? I'm sorry, but for 2 feats...

If it's a monk, even your lightning bolt probably won't work... Actually, every class has a bad save, even the monk! A monk's "bad" save is Fortitude. It's just usually higher than a wizard's Fortitude save.

Wizards have access to a lot of spells that don't even allow saves, especially at higher levels. Or just use web, which is plain amazing. Or summon monster if that's your style. A cleric who runs into a brute monster probably can't use slay living effectively on it, but he can still "buff-n-bash" which is something a wizard can't do until at least 11th-level (and then pay through the nose for that option).

Elder Basilisk posted a nice rebuttal to the "Feats/class features" discussion, but what about the "poor saving throw" discussion? I believe that was the main point of Ryan Dancey's statement.
 
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